Saturday, May 21, 2011


We started Monday at Columbia College, with a breakfast-coffee send off in the student commons, a bus ride to Lambert (where much of the terminal is still boarded up with plywood after the recent tornado), a flight to Chicago, and then—whoosh—to Paris.   Tonya  read her Kindle, and I ignored Shrek 2, and instead read through 470 pages of Dune (about half) for my summer SF class, all in one long sitting. 

Pop quiz—which is longest?*
A. Bus ride Columbia to Lambert

B. Check-in line at American Airlines

C. Flight to Chicago

We grouped up in Paris with Lee and Paula and Sam and Ashley on the Miami flight, and eventually Barbara from Washington state, got everyone through the long lines for the ATM and cash exchange, met Liz, our tour guide, and then did a fast blast of Paris, even as the jet lag settled in. We dragged out luggage from the bus along the Rue des Abesses, a street of cafes, flower shops, a Chinese deli, bread shops and windows full of pastries, and a dozen fruit and vegetable stands, full of tomatoes and fresh blackberries, strawberries, apples, white asparagus, all inviting. We have a farmers’ market at home, like St. Louis has the big market in Soulard, but not the same. I suppose we could have such fruit/vegetable stands in Columbia, but perhaps it’s too small a city, or perhaps this is part of a strong pedestrian culture that Americans have forgotten. Ah, I digress…

…and dragged our luggage up the hill, since the “mont” in Montmartre is accurate, stowed the luggage to wait for our rooms at the TimHotel, and went out exploring.   Montmartre was once just outside the city walls of Paris, and so less taxed, cheaper, and became a place for those “starving artists” and for less “restricted” entertainment.  For instance, at the bottom of the hill, we walked past the Moulin Rouge, still alive, thriving, expensive (and for fans of the movie, nearby is a bar that claims to serve “genuine absinthe”—though I didn’t have time to verify that myself).

Liz introduced us to the Paris Metro, an amazing way to zip under the busy city streets, though using the Metro with a couple people is a bit easier than navigating the hallways and hopping briskly into the subway cars with 28. And so to Notre Dame.

I’m still partial to the gargoyles outside (and bought another 2” fellow to go with the larger one Pam gave me a couple years ago), but we did walk through inside to admire the stained glass and gothic arches.

*longest, in this order, A, B, C…


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